All Thumbs Isn't a Bad Thing: Video Game Programs @ Your library[R]

By Saxton, Beth | Young Adult Library Services, Winter 2007 | Go to article overview

All Thumbs Isn't a Bad Thing: Video Game Programs @ Your library[R]


Saxton, Beth, Young Adult Library Services


Would you like to attract new teens to your library? Are you wondering how you can reach those teens that only come to the library to camp out on the computers for as long as possible? Would you like to get more boys involved in your activities? Then warm up your thumbs and plan some video game programs.

Programs that capitalize on teen interests are how we maintain relevance in the busy lives of our teens. By taking traditionally solitary activities like reading, writing, and crafting and adding expertise, structure, and community, libraries offer teens enhanced experiences they are unable to create on their own. Giving video games the same consideration can attract new teens to the library and improve your relationship with teen gamers.

Go to the Source

For librarians who are not active gamers, it can be hard to keep up with what the most popular games and systems are in your community. This presents a great opportunity for teen input and leadership in your library. Consider forming a gaming or technology-specific teen advisory board. Seek out your most game-obsessed teens, and be sure to talk to teens that don't usually attend other types of programs. Let them guide your program choices and recommend game-related titles for your collection. Find out what systems they own and what games they are playing, including those for portable systems. Ask them what games they think would attract a lot of players for a tournament. Finally, browse the gaming magazines and Web sites they read. Your teens are a key resource when planning video game programs.

Equipment

If you are considering a tournament or free-play program, equipment can be one of the major obstacles in planning. For each game station you will need a television, game system, game, and the correct number of controllers. You will likely need two controllers each for Microsoft Xbox or Sony PlayStation systems and two to four controllers for each Nintendo GameCube. Consult the back of the game package for the number of players to be sure. If you are planning to play Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) or another game with special equipment, make sure you have enough equipment for each game station. (If your game of choice is DDR, it is highly recommended that you choose the best quality dance mats you can afford.)

There are several ways to procure equipment depending on your library and community. Several libraries have purchased the equipment, either out of their budgets or with grant funds, as part of plans for ongoing video game programming. This is the optimal solution if you plan on multiple, well-attended events, and your library can afford it.

If this is not an option, then you may be able to solicit help from your local video game store by asking them to cosponsor an event and loan the equipment. Employees at your local store are generally quite knowledgeable about their products. An ongoing relationship with the staff can be a strong asset, especially for librarians who are not gamers themselves. Beyond loaning equipment, these experts can tell you what the most popular games and systems are in your area, help you reach your target audience, and may even be willing to volunteer at your event. The store benefits from the publicity and from your teenagers test-driving games and systems they may later decide to buy.

If you are just starting out and do not expect more than about twenty participants, you can run a tournament on one or two systems that can often be borrowed from library staff. Look into renting additional copies of a game for these events as it can be significantly cheaper than purchasing games for a one-time event. Finally, it may be possible to ask participants to bring in their own equipment. Do this only if you can be sure everyone is aware that the library cannot be held responsible for damage or theft.

Tournaments

A proven way to attract gamers to your library is to hold a tournament. …

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